Bombers backup QBs are green and hoping to land in Blue

Bombers backup QBs are green and hoping to land in Blue

May 17, 2018 0 By news club


The feeling of being wanted was strong enough for Chris Streveler to forego a couple of sniffs in the NFL and play roughly eight hours north of where he starred in college football.

Streveler was one of four quarterbacks to hit the gridiron as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers opened up their first day of rookie camp on Wednesday.

Streveler hails from the University of South Dakota, just over 800 kilometres south of Investors Group Field, a quick jaunt down Highway 75 for the first leg of the trip and the rest along I-29 as you cross the border until you hit a town called Vermillion.

Streveler is as rookie as rookie’s get. The fresh-faced 23-year-old has never played a down of CFL football.

The bigger field, the larger end zones… it’s all new to the native of Illinois, who blitzed the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision for 373.4 yards per game in his senior year in 2017, leading all of his contemporaries.

His 4,134 passing yards were good for second and his 43 total touchdowns — 32 in the air and 11 more on the ground — were third.

His impressive efforts on the field led to recognition off it as he finished second in voting for the Walter Payton Award, handed to the FCS’s best offensive player.

Of course, none of those statistics meant much on Wednesday. 

“There’s definitely a learning curve, it’s a different game,” Streveler said after his first day as a member of a professional football team.

Streveler said calls regarding minicamp spots from NFL teams felt lukewarm. Winnipeg, however, is giving him what he calls a “legit shot” to compete for a job. Constant communication with offensive co-ordinator Paul LaPolice over the past couple of months didn’t hurt either.

“That shows something,” Streveler said. “It had been something I had been thinking for a while. [To] some people, it might seem like the more glamorous decision to say you went and did an NFL minicamp, at the end of the day, I just want an opportunity to compete and play football.”

Streveler, along with fellow pivots Alex Ross and Zack Mahoney walked into a land of opportunity on Wednesday.

Main camp doesn’t begin until Sunday, but for the trio behind Blue Bombers No. 1 Matt Nichols, their journey began last week when Darian Durant decided to retire from the game.

Ross is on the only quarterback with any CFL experience. It’s not a lot (he’s played parts of four games). Nor is it anything to write home about (he’s cobbled together five completions on 12 attempts with two interceptions).

But it’s something. His CFL experience is the only CFL experience the Bombers have at quarterback outside of Nichols.

The waggle, the wider field — Ross at least has an understanding of what that entails. 

“I think I have a leg up now,” Ross said Wednesday. “That’s going to allow me to dive into it that much deeper, from the get-go, rather than having to learn all these new things.”

With Durant out of the picture — and out of his way — Ross said the opportunity in front of him seems that much more real to become Nichols’ primary clipboard carrier. 

But even if Durant was on the field on Wednesday, being third in line was never the goal.

“If Darian was out here, I would want to compete with him, that’s just the type of competitor I am,” Ross said.

Mahoney, a Canadian thanks to his dual citizenship (although he grew up in Illinois), rounds out the contingent and is likely fourth on the pecking order, at least for now.

Mahoney isn’t worried about any perceived depth chart at this point, however, and he’s no stranger to the big time.

Playing at Syracuse University, Mahoney started nine games, including against NCAA powerhouses like Clemson, LSU and Florida State.

In a game against Pittsburgh in November 2016, Mahoney dropped seven touchdowns (five passing and two rushing) in a record-breaking game, which Syracuse still managed to lose 76-61 in spite of Mahoney’s heroics. 

“Any time you get brought in and you get an opportunity to be competing, whether it’s for a starting spot, a backup spot — whatever it may be — you just got to push the people around you every single day,” Mahoney said. “If your name gets called, you got to be ready to step up.”

sbilleck@postmedia.com

Twitter: @scottbilleck



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